DEAR ABBY: About a year ago, my husband, "Scott," started attending church. He had never gone in the few years we dated.
We discussed our feelings about religion before we became engaged. He comes from a family that attended church every Sunday and believes in God. I was raised the exact opposite; I'm an atheist. I told Scott that if we had children, I would be OK with him taking them to church, but I would not join them. It bothered him a little, but we talked it over and moved on.
After a difficult year that led to some mild depression (for which Scott sought help), he started going to church. I was happy for him because it seemed to help him.
After a few weeks he asked me to go with him. I went several times, but felt uncomfortable. I feel like a fraud sitting in the pew. Scott says he "wants my support" and that means attending with him. I suspect he's embarrassed to be there without his wife.
I do not enjoy it. I have been offended by some of the messages that were imparted, and I would prefer having a couple of hours to myself on Sundays.
Abby, what should I do? Is there any middle ground here? -- FEELING COERCED IN SAN DIEGO
DEAR FEELING COERCED: Tell Scott that you are happy he has found comfort in going to church, but that you are not comfortable with what is being preached and find some of it offensive. Remind him that church attendance was not part of your agreement when you married him and that you value your solitary time at home the same way he appreciates the service.
While you might relent and go with him on major holidays -- some non-believing spouses do that -- there really isn't a middle ground, and because you feel so strongly about it, you should stand yours.
DEAR ABBY: I am the mother of two girls. One of them has a lot of emotional problems. My husband is gone for months at a time due to his job. I have told him many times that I want him to find another job that would have him home more often. He always says that there are no jobs that will pay what he's making now.
I know that we need a good-paying job, but I need my husband home and my girls need their father. With all of our daughter's issues, everything falls on my shoulders and I don't feel I can handle it alone much longer. We don't live near family, and I have found it hard to make friends due to my daughter's acting out. How do I get my husband to understand? -- MARRIED SINGLE MOM
DEAR MOM: I understand how stressful it must be to have all the responsibility for raising your daughters on your shoulders. And feeling as isolated as you do only intensifies your feelings. If your husband doesn't already understand what you are going through, I doubt there is much you can say that will convince him to quit his lucrative job and help with the children.
Because he is gone so much -- and making good money -- consider moving yourself and your daughters closer to your family so you can have some respite when you need it. And in the meantime, find a therapist for yourself. Perhaps your daughter's doctor or your personal physician can recommend one.
DEAR READERS: Largely because of you, writing this column is a labor of love for me, and I would like to wish you all a very Happy Valentine's Day! -- ABBY
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